SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KRON) – Vaccine trials are underway here in the Bay Area as drug companies race to seek FDA approval.

The drug giant Pfizer has applied for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine, meaning the first doses of the shot could be rolled out for use in weeks.

If approved, the drug will initially be given to those most at risk like health care workers.

There is light at the end of the tunnel sometime in 2021 and by that time we’ll know how well the vaccine will work.

The COVID-19 vaccine race is speeding up as drug companies announce progress.

Pfizer and Moderna announcing their vaccines are about 95 percent effective.

KRON4 spoke with Samantha Bastow, a pharmacy solution advisor at Lumere, a GHX company, which provides hospitals with data to help them solve healthcare supply chain challenges.

Reporter: “With two pharmaceutical companies, which one is better?”
Samantha Bastow, PharmD, BCPS: “I think it’s too early to bet over one vaccine over the other.  What we do know is that the FDA is very rigorous in their reviews so if they do grant emergency use of authorization to either or both then it means that in their eyes the benefit far outweighs the risks and they review the efficacy and safety data.”

Pfizer is awaiting emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration. If signed off, the vaccine could roll out in a few weeks.

Moderna expects to also seek emergency authorization within weeks.

The drug will be given to those most at risk particularly health care workers.

“The plan is to phase this out. I think with those two manufacturers there’s probably going to be 70 million doses is what they’re projecting for the end of 2020, nearly a billion next year,” Bastow said. 

The big question: When will the public have access to the vaccine?

“For the rest of us likely in 2021, those who are perhaps lower risk. As they continue the clinical trials and continue to study other patient populations like perhaps pediatrics or children populations in things of that nature, we’ll have a little bit more information also in 2021,” Bastow said. 

The public’s first chance to see how strong the evidence really is will come on December 10th when FDA scientific advisers will have a public meeting. 

In the meantime the best way to protect yourself from the virus is wearing a mask.

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